JK.Rowling’s magical world of Harry Potter has always been such a treat. I absolutely loved the HP series. I grew up with it, treasured it and…uh lived through it. Well not really but we Potter fans like to think that we do somehow 😉 I haven’t read Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. After taking a sort of hiatus with the potter world, it was a nice surprise to see Rowling’s book come to the big screen. It’s definitely an entirely different experience not knowing what the story is all about.
Rowling’s world is phenomenally creative. It still captures the wonder of my childhood. And it makes me once again excited,even invigorated,for the many more magical narratives that she has in store for us. Taking a different path, Fantastic Beasts is not the grand affair that Harry Potter was. It’s protagonist doesn’t bear the same burden of destiny and things are definitely more allegorical of society over here. If Harry Potter was about reimagining how exciting school could be, Fantastic Beasts tries to be a reflection of social change and order. And although I love the film’s characters including all the weird,cool and cute beasts, the social narrative is a rather gloomy portrayal of intolerance.
But first let’s talk about the aspects of the film which landed really well. Newt Scamander(Eddie Redmayne) is awfully awkward and charming in his own way. And so is the supporting cast of creature conservation crusaders. You have the shell-shocked blur-head Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), the ever coquettish Queenie (Fine Frenzy) and the stick-by-the-book ex-auror Popertina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). It’s wacky, hilarious and loads of fun watching their relationships develop and the many instances where they get into sticky situations. The jaunty tone of the franchise’s past is well preserved here by David Yates. The man’s still got it. But let’s be honest, who else would we rather have than David Yates? Eddie Redmayne is very awesome in his role by the way and I couldn’t have thought of anyone better to play Newt.
Some spoilers at the end of this paragraph, where I talk about how the film diverts attention from its allegory and becomes quite troubling.
Erumpent.Bowtruckle.Graphorn.And the aptly named Swooping Evil. My favourite? The cute little critter in the gif above, the ape-like Demiguise. Newt’s world of magical creatures and his admirable cause of conserving them takes him to the US where neither his creatures nor he is really welcome. While Newt and his friends are on the hunt which is highly entertaining and light-hearted, the politics on the other side is darker and, worse still, quite troubling. MACUSA, the American Ministry Of Magic is seen throughout the film to be highly enclosed in its beliefs. This continues even till the end. Where it is obvious that repressed individuals who interact with the non-magical world and repression of magical identity in general is bad, MACUSA still fails to recognize the problems of its own system. Instead of helping its own victimized wizards/witches, it destroys them for fear of dealing with the root problems. In the last few scenes, MACUSA’s acts are re-enforcing the social divide and charging the victim instead of mending the broken. They choose to accept to live under a constant state of suppression than forge steps ahead to validate their identity,freedoms and rights. The ‘villain’ actually makes a good point in the end, but the film decided to do a cop out and diverted underlying social concerns with plot tricks. I’m not a big fan of that to be honest. I was left a little confused.
If intolerance was a feature the film wanted to highlight, then I’m not too pleased that the film constantly tried to diffuse the tough questions it proposed. The movie is essentially two tracks. I’m big on the entertaining chases and quests to find the many magical beasts in the film-The animation is an absolute stunner. It’s so cute that I’d wish I had one of those creatures as a life-long companion. That’s the magic of the HP mythology. The social allegory,which is more complex than in the original HP series is, as of now, still unresolved. This first Fantastic Beasts movie doesn’t even attempt to address the issues plaguing tensions between the non-magical and the magical world. It’s more hard-up on catching Newt who is a good guy-It’s more entertaining but it leaves many things unanswered.
Rating: 6/10 What are your thoughts?